Confessions of a Solo Kayaker. November 22, 1995.

Several people have commented to me that I send so much kayak junk- email, I must have no time to have a real job. Check the dates! It is rare that I get to go out more than twice a week for just a few hours. Then when I write it up, I send the story out in little dribs and drabs, and make the email last as long as possible. If the truth be known, it's possible that I spend more time typing things, editing the Word document, formatting the pieces, downloading them, reading the photo CD's, cleaning up the images, downloading them to the WEB site, editing the HTML versions... More time with a keyboard in my hands than with a paddle. Then, if I do get really involved in work, and don't get to go kayaking or send any email out for a week, several people have written asking if I was all right. Or sending email to friends to ask if Mike has had an accident with his kayak.

I think I am being conservative with this kayak thing (Marty will disagree). I check the weather reports. I'm probably a wimp compared to other kayakers when it comes to staying away from big swells at sea. Yes, I kayak alone, and you are not supposed to do that. But the solitude of being out in the wilderness alone is too wonderful to give up. Besides, I'm serious about my safety equipment: Enough flotation for three people, with a kayak made like a giant plastic float, a full wetsuit, and a life vest. (I can't believe that personal flotation vests were not required for kayaks by the Coast Guard until 1996, I wouldn't consider the ocean without one). And finally I got a helmet for all the caves I've been in. I have my emergency kit: whistle, compass, flashlight (even in the middle of the day, just in case), first aid kit, spare rope. I carry a marine radio (another boy-toy) for instant weather reports, to call for help on, and to call Marty on the phone to tell her "I'm running late, and don't worry so much!" My paddle is tied to my kayak so I can't drop it. On long trips I carry a spare paddle and a hand-operated bilge pump. Really, I don't take (very many) chances. I'm still afraid of the ocean, in the sense that I know that it will slam me down if I don't pay attention, and probably a few times when I am. But I plan on increasing the odds of getting back up again. Now I'm diving alone, and you're not supposed to do that. This I feel guilty about. Perhaps my brother Paul will save me from myself by being available to go diving often with me.

All text and images Copyright © 2008 by Mike Higgins / contact